Monday, June 28, 2010

The Scottish Play, the Russian Play and Lowe in Basingstoke

Ah, it's always fun to hit the Globe; I had missed their Macbeth earlier, so was glad to have a chance to catch it before it ended. The staging was a bit more elaborate than the usual plain stage: there was a double ring with chains and drapery over the stage, and a kind of bib stretching out from the stage itself, which had holes cut in it to allow the mostly young groundlings to put their heads through. It also allowed the three witches (pictured left) to sneak up behind them and make them shriek. This set the tone: it was a gruesomely bloody production that emphasized the violence. I liked that the witches were always around, so you had more of a sense of their orchestrating all the events. A very enjoyable production that seldom lagged.

Another stop at the NT is hard to resist when they have the Travelx £10 tickets. I had already seen the set for Mikhail Bulgakov's The White Guard during the back stage tour and was looking forward to seeing it in action. I had no idea that there were a few sets between which the action switched. The main location, the Turbin's home, was a wonderful evocation of early 20th century Russia, but I had no idea how quickly the entire set could roll away and be replaced with succeeding sets, even an underground bunker. Bulgakov's play deals with the horrors of war and its pointlessness, but with a great deal of humour and tenderness as well as anger. Very enjoyable. Even more enjoyable was coming out of the theatre in the midst of the England-Slovenia match, so the streets were completely empty and there was no traffic to fight while cycling through Waterloo. Whoo hoo!

Thursday was Basingstoke and Nick Lowe. His opening act was part of his band: Geraint Watkins. The good-natured singer and keyboardist ambled through a few songs accompanied by clarinet and saxophonist Martin Willing (I think?) that really pleased the audience. Later Lowe dueted with Watkins on "Only a Rose." Lowe was his usual low key self with the big shock of white hair and thick horn-rimmed glasses. He hit songs old and new like the yearning "Long Limbed Girl" and "I Trained Her to Love Me" (which he called "evil") from At My Age and older songs like acoustic versions of "Heart" and "The Beast in Me" as well as a really romping version of "I Knew the Bride" and wonderfully moving rendition of "What's so Funny 'bout Peace Love and Understanding?" Wonderful show -- worth the trip!

Yesterday, of course, was the disastrous loss of the England team, or as the Express headline I saw on the Tube said, "YOU LET YOUR COUNTRY DOWN." Worse, I lost £10 betting on them and Germany was just a much much better team. At least I got treated to a drink to make up for losing :-)

It's outrageously hot in London. I cam back in the middle of the afternoon and took a bath I felt so grotty. Where are my grey skies and cool breezes?

4 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Yes, how dare that soccer team lose a match when the FANS will suffer so. My thoughts about this "reasoning" are utterly unprintable in a family blog such as this one.

The plays do indeed sound fine, and Lowe, if he's going to write and perform his own autumnal "Run for Your Life"/"Under My Thumb" should at least own up to it. (Sounds a bit as when DC pop/cabaret singer Karin Akers would perform a song, rather well, involving the sentiment If anyone's going to get hurt here, better you than me, then undercut herself intentionally immediately thereafter with "I feel so MEAN when I do that song." Really?

Todd Mason said...

And the swelter in London is no worse than the swelter on the left side of the Atlantic, I can assure you.

Todd Mason said...

Finally picked up the BEYOND THE FRINGE telefilm, and am listening to it now. The longest Shakes bit is playing now...

K. A. Laity said...

Well, the sweltering heat in London has the advantage of being in London. That's enough for me.

Yeah, the fans here are just mental (but I didn't say that shhhh).

Hope you're enjoying BTF -- that's the best Shakespeare parody ever! And "The Aftermyth of War" -- it's hard to believe how much of a controversy it was back in the day when it was not possible to say anything but cheers about the gallant war effort. Back in those days when the Lord Chamberlain still vetted every script...